In an ideal world, everybody would be able to easily afford the very basic necessities needed to keep their kids safe – especially car seats. Maybe as more and more people realise how hugely important car seats are, the demand will increase and in turn the seats will become more affordable. With only 15% of SA kids strapped into seats safely, the demand is low, which means the costs of the best of the best are high.
If you can afford a top of the range car seat, like the gorgeous Volvo Britax seats, DO it! If I could afford a (Ferrari/Porche/Volvo XC90), I would certainly be driving one.
If you can’t afford one of the high-end seats, you can STILL afford a new car seat, and there are “more affordable” well-known safe brands out there, save up the R1000 to get a new seat. New is better, simply because you know exactly where it has been and what it has been through.
We do live in a country where SO many people can’t afford to buy new. Even if you can afford one brand new seat for your first kid, the second kid might be a bit of a stretch, the third crazy, the fourth… I have 4 kids! Thank heavens the older two are 12 and 14, so they can safely use safety belts – JUST. But I still have to pay school fees, feed 4 kids (including a teenage boy!), so I really REALLY understand that buying a R5000 car seat is an impossibility for some people.
BUT having a car seat for your kid isn’t negotiable. You do what you need to, if you can’t buy brand new, there are plenty of people who are trying to sell the seat their little one has just outgrown so you can buy them the next one they need on Gumtree.
There is a strong chance the person selling their seat on Gumtree is trying to get a little bit of cash together to buy the next size seat for their child. Very few people will sell a badly damaged seat on Gumtree but there are a few things you do need to be aware of before you buy a second hand seat.
Ask the current owner of the seat the following questions, you will be able to gauge if they are being honest or not.
- Has the seat ever been in the car in an accident, even if the child was not in the car seat.
- Are there any missing parts? If so what are they?
- Havethey fixed or added anything?
- How old is the seat? Don’t buy a seat more than 6 years old. Safety measures improve all the time and some car seats may actually have been recalled.
Car seats have come a long way and some designs are outdated and no longer adhere to safety standards of today. Many car seats have foam layered in the upholstery. This foam perishes over time and then gives off a dust. This dust can cause lung diseases and the covers must be destroyed. As much as there is no hard evidence of car seats expiring – technology has moved on and has rendered some seat designs as obsolete.
- Do you have the instruction manual? You need the manual to install the seat properly. If they don’t, before you agree to purchase, find out if you can get it online. NEVER EVER install a seat without reading the manual first. A huge number of seats are incorrectly installed and the smallest installation error can render the seat unsafe.
- Where was your car mostly parked? (If a car is parked in the sun rather than under cover, the plastic on the seat can become brittle).
Obviously it is better to ask these questions in person where you are able to actually also see the state of the car seat before any money exchanges hands.
Once you have asked the questions, check the following on the car seat.
- Check if it has been damaged, lift the material covering up and have a look all over.
- Check that the make and model of the seat is appropriate for your child’s age, weight and height. This should be in the manual if you are unsure.
- Try and install it in your car (you should do this with a new seat as well) and see how it fits. If it doesn’t then rather don’t buy it.
- Make sure the seat is clean. Kids eat, drink, and all sorts of other things in their car seats, they are nasty places so make sure you are buying a clean seat, you do not want someone else’s germs.
If you are in Joburg then pop into Wheel Well and have the seat checked again (or ask the owner if you can get them to check it) and they will clean it for you.
You can win a Volvo Britax car seat for your little one with Gumtree until 30 September 2016